tobes wrote: Cittasanto wrote:
I find the appeal to 'logical common sense' and in the post before the appeal to 'social norms' pretty unsatisfactory.
Can you show how social norms does not apply to the precepts and would not be covered here. as an example the intellectual property rights.
The internet is a privilage not a right btw, and although it is free to use the content is not necessarily publicly owned.
Well I think Buddhist precepts are are grounded in a logic of consequentialism - obviously connected with kamma - not on whatever happens to be socially normative at a given time (i.e. a kind of social constructivism).
that is in part true, yet they are social, and take into account of changes in social norms. Please look at the great standard.
There are really two dimensions at play - firstly the metaphysics of kamma/paticcasamuppāda which in some respects is taken to be a kind of natural law. i.e. it's an explanation for how reality (and agency) functions.
Secondly the normative response to that view - that humans ought to act in certain ways, such that they are attuned to that reality (and ultimately of course, overcome it). The conceptual wording of the precepts are expressive of that normative response. I agree that because we are in the sphere of language and concepts, we are automatically in a sphere of social conditioning/ constructivism. But the normativity of the precepts does not refer principally to those conditions - which will always be highly variable. The normativity refers to the first dimension I mentioned - it is a response to the functional reality of kamma/paticcasamuppāda.
The precepts fall into two groups that which are worldly rules and rules connected directly to the practice. The Lay precepts are worded quite openly because they are minimum standards, not hard and fast detailed rules applicable in every situation from conception.
Out of the five precepts the first four are worldly rules connected with social cohesion. and the fifth is spiritual, connected with the training.
Of the Eight Precepts the 1st, 2nd, and 4th are worldly, and the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, & 8th are spiritual.
in both cases the second precept which is under discussion is worldly and any worldly determination of what theft is is counted.
The implication is that we cannot take highly variable social-political conditions to be the normative basis for what the precepts refer to. Doing so would leave us with the intractable problem that when pernicious social-political conditions arise, the moral Buddhist just goes along with them.
if the social-political landscape makes it impossible to keep the precept completely or demands one is broken then is it a good place to stay?
What the moral Buddhist must do is determine the relationship between the demands of the precepts and the variability of particular social-political norms. For example, if you live in a state which commits to a pernicious war, and conscripts you to fight in it, you ought to uphold the precept not to kill against the social norm that fighting for your state is courageous and virtuous.
and that would be breaking the precept.
please look at the white poppy appeal and conscientious objection.
The question of intellectual property rights and the internet is obviously far more complex and murky. My point is not to argue strongly one way or the other, but merely to point out this complexity and murkiness.
if I created a piece of music, and it was available online, the intelectual property is mine.
For example, you posit a distinction between private and public goods - which is a liberal distinction - and assume this to be immutable. But is it? Actually, in political economy this is highly contested, and it is not clear where a Buddhist position might sit in relation to that contestation.
I don't assume anything is immutable. anicca. hence the social norms role in the precepts.
You also assert that the internet is a privilege not a right. I agree that there is no basis to call it 'a right' - but whose privilege is it? If the internet is itself a global commons - and this is clearly how it started - how coherent is the demand that some content is ownable? I have seen very plausible arguments the other way: the existence of a free commons has been co-opted by that very logic of private ownership. If there is a problem of theft, it is of particular states/agents/corporations colonising something which is not theirs to colonise.
the privilege is with the one using it.
just as coherant as to say music or video piracy is breaking laws.
if a stall in a market held on public grounds has goods stolen from it but the public doesn't want charges pressed then does the stalls rights to its property to be protected from theft, and the thief to be brought to justice disappear? or an authors rights to control their work disappear because someone wants to reproduce the work?
Let's take a material analogy: there is some land which people live on, share and utilise, but do not claim ownership of. Let us say, Australia in the 1700's. Then people arrive, claim ownership and set up a sovereign state on that same land. Then, whoever violates those laws of ownership is held to account by (their) law for trespass or theft. Now if you are an indigenous person who was originally there, and you end up in jail for trespass - don't you think there is something deeply immoral and unjust about that finding - even though, from a certain point of view, it is entirely lawful?
things change and there are too many variables not accounted for.
[quote problem corrected]